Battery vs. Diesel Generators: The case for hybrid power

Over the last century, diesel generators have become a required piece of equipment for off-grid power in many industries including construction, mining, film production, healthcare etc. Although gas and diesel generators are touted as the most reliable and durable source of portable power, companies are wasting money on old, inefficient technology that solely relies on fossil fuels. Generators are designed to overproduce the amount of power needed, resulting in high levels of wasted fuel, emitting GHGs and poisoning thousands of people per year. In fact, most fossil fuel generators spend much of their service life polluting the environment by being noisy and – often overlooked – running inefficiently.

The problem with generators

A typical diesel generator set must run at a minimum load of 30% of its maximum capacity to operate effectively. That is the absolute minimum and far from the recommended load of 60-75% from generator manufacturers. However, many customers (including our own customers) use generators with a load of less than 25% capacity. To make it worse, in most cases, diesel generators are often unnecessarily running 24/7 for lights, security equipment, catering and more. The constant underutilization of diesel generators leads to wasted fuel (in terms of fuel consumption), more GHG emissions, dangerous environments filled with noxious fumes and ‘wet stacking’.

What is wet stacking?

Wet stacking occurs in any diesel generator operating under no or lightly loaded conditions (less than 30% of rated performance) for extended periods. The low running load means the engine does not reach the optimal operating temperature for peak performance leaving unburnt fuel and carbon deposits within the engine. Besides contributing to increased emissions, prolonged wet stacking can significantly reduce the working life of a diesel generator by years and cost a significant amount in maintenance.

The sustainable solution: e-Generator Hybrid Systems

Using Voltstack electric generators or battery energy storage systems to limit the use of existing diesel generators eliminates engine inefficiencies, maintenance issues due to low loads and potential wet stacking. While many diesel generator owners and sellers prefer load banks – essentially applying additional and unnecessary load to the genset as a solution to wet stacking – the only sustainable solution available today is using an energy storage system like a Voltstack power station in tandem with a diesel generator, also known as hybrid power generation or “hybrid generators”.

Much like a hybrid electric vehicle, hybrid power systems can have a significant impact on mobile power, including:

1. Costs savings

In some cases, 90% of fuel and maintenance costs can be saved on low-loads when using a Voltstack e-Generator paired with a diesel one. Turning diesel generators off and letting batteries power low-to-medium loads for long durations, significantly reduces GHG emissions onsite.

2. Lower emissions

With the diesel generator not required to run continuously, its emissions output can dramatically decrease.

3. Silent operation

Noise levels from diesel generators can range anywhere from 75 to 100 decibels. The constant drone of these generators poses a health and safety hazard to those around them. Voltstack e-Generators operate silently for inner-city operations, sensitive areas, public spaces and safe worksites.

4. Remote monitoring

Voltstack e-Generators are integrated with our proprietary software, Neuron OS, giving users the ability to monitor these power stations remotely. Additionally, the app also lets users manage their fleet, track CO2 emissions, monitor runtimes or troubleshoot the unit.

Read all about how Voltstack e-Generators have been used as a hybrid power solution in the film industry.

To learn more about our clean energy solutions, get in touch with an Energy Consultant today!